Juliana's report of Litkicks NYC 12/11/02
Drove 12 hours to NYC from Indianapolis for the Litkicks-bongobeat poetry/music happening that took place on Wednesday night, December 11. It was worth it. Now I wanna be a taxi-driver in Manhattan. All that money spent on higher education...damn.
I spent the rainy Wednesday afternoon in NYC at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, practicing and editing the pieces I planned to read later that night at the Litkicks-bongobeat event. As my friend Amy and I nursed our expensive soft drinks, she listened and timed me. She’s been my best friend for twenty-four years, so she is a brutally honest audience and I trusted she wouldn’t let me make a jack-ass of myself later that evening.
There was a lot of rain going on in New York Wednesday night. The water droplets were huge and inescapable. Of course I had forgotten my umbrella in my car that was stuck in the car-condo adjacent to the hotel, out of reach, so we just had to deal with getting dumped on while catching a cab down to the Bowery Poetry Club. I pulled my scarf over my head to avoid getting totally drenched, and Amy wore a hat, but we still got pretty soaked. To make matters worse, when we stepped out of our hotel at 48th and 8th Avenue, we realized that due to the rain, everyone else was piled into cabs too. We ended up standing in the deluge in our “best goin’ out shoes” for what seemed at least ten minutes, as full cab after full cab whizzed past us.
When we got to the club, it felt homey and familiar. I told the door guy, who was every inch of 6’5”, twenty-something, and not yet filled out in the britches, that I was one of the comics and he let me in for free. He also didn’t flinch when I told him I was one of the “comics.”
The colors of the venue were dark reds and deep blues with exposed brick, lining parts of the walls. There was a high ceiling and a polished, hard-wood floor. It felt warm and clean. The layout was shot-gun style, with two bars to the right – the one closest to the door for bottled, non-alcoholic drinks and pastry-type snacks, and the second was the real bar. Well-lit steps to the left led down to the restrooms in the basement. A guy was working the foo-foo bar, and a woman/girl was working the real bar – hoowahhh! Girl power!
Amy and I got there a few minutes after seven and found a table next to Jamelah, in_extremis, Gothic Hippie Chic, and Firecracker. Levi was busy with last minute orchestrations. The previous night, Amy and I met Firecracker, Lauren (cute as a button) Agnelli, Ralph from Bongo Beat, Levi, and some other people. My friend Amy kept saying to me, “that Firecracker is SUCH a doll!” I told her she ain’t seen nothin’! If she thinks Firecracker is a doll in person, she should read how wit-stricken her posts are! The night we all first met, we talked a lot about Amy’s new tits, which was great first-meeting material…poetic in its own special way.
Gothic Hippie Chic was the first to read, followed by in_extremis. They both mentioned something about being nervous, but they didn’t look it. There was a little trembling of hands, but it added up to a very minor point. They did a great job and their pieces were well received, as I knew they would be. Intelligent-and-diaphanous-true-notes, seeping up from the soul and joining hands with the insides of all ears listening. Thanks to a chance meeting in the loo, I got to talk to GHC. She truly is a bubbly, cutie-pie. Smart, gorgeous, talented, brimming with feeling; what more could the human race ask for? Her parents and younger brother came out to show their support, which was wildly cool of them! I also enjoyed talking to in_extremis after the show. He reminds me of someone I could get into a lot of mischief with! Bitbrain was there too…he’s a totally cool cat in person and taller than me even though I was wearing 4” heels. He was very entertaining in his own right.
I can’t say enough about the musicians, David Amram, Dave Rave, Lauren Agnelli, Bob Holman and Paul Hyde. They were all wonderful. David’s work draws the audience into a place of music, memory, and a feeling of oneness with the show. His scat rocked out. He is also a wonderful conversationalist and I had the privilege of speaking to him for quite some time. Well, mostly listening to him as is the prudent thing to do when having the honor of being in the presence of greatness. His style of speech is like that great book you can’t put down. Lauren is a soulful singer/songwriter whose heart punctuates each note…each phrase, and drops a picture of her grace into the depository of the listener’s own life experiences. Dave Rave owns the stage like he’s sitting in his living room talking to close friends. He’s a true showman. Ralph also drew the crowd in and was a real smile maker.
CHiLiPHiSH was the youngest of the Litkickers to read. Her piece was sophisticated not just for her age, but as a writer. Her piece came from the heart as well as the mind, and painted a picture. She showed us…shared with us, a substantial scene from her life. Jamelah was great as usual. She exuded confidence and spoke her words as I hear them in my head when I read them on the site. Firecracker’s pieces mingled with Amram’s accompaniment on the keys like warm fingers intertwining. Her spoken pieces sounded a mere shred away from being songs.
Levi’s piece was straight - fab. It made me want to yell out, “Halleluiah!” I could see heads nodding as he spoke. He didn’t so much read, he knew what he wanted to say, what was written on the paper, and he “told it.” It was powerful, funny, serious as a heart attack, sassy, and alluded to many things I related to. I don’t think I was alone in that regard.
My experience onstage was a blast. I really wasn't very nervous. I told myself I wouldn’t be and tried to pretend that I was my comedy-bud, Charlie Viracola, who is a really great example of how to be relaxed in front of a crowd. The scariest moment was when Amram called us all up to the stage at the end for a farewell sing-along chorus of “this one’s for you Jack, this one’s for you.” Ha! A bunch of writers, introverts by nature, all pushed up onstage to sing! It was great though. I didn’t get a chance to talk to anyone as much as I wanted to, but time’s always an issue in life, isn’t it? Thanks to Levi, Firecracker, and anyone else who helped put the whole thing together. We had a great time.